It is said that “one of the unfortunate characteristics of the brain is that it generally shrinks and atrophies with advancing age” (see article reference below). This does not sound very positive, yet it also rings true.

Consider a baby, or a young child, whose brain rapidly and continuously changes as that child learns what seems like a million things in a very short period of time. Then compare a person in late adulthood, who may seem slower to adapt, to remember, and to understand cause and effect in everyday events around them.

However, a review of clinical neuroscience studies (1) supports the idea that physical activity influences the brain and takes advantage of the brain’s natural capacity for plasticity well into late adulthood.

The authors find that greater amounts of physical activity and higher cardio respiratory fitness levels are associated with better cognitive function (e.g. learning, thinking, reasoning, remembering, problem solving, decision making and attention) in older adults.

Diagrammatically - the authors state:

Regarding the dotted arrows flowing to and from 'Improved mood' and 'Cognitive improvements', the authors say that it can be hypothesized that those improvements may be influenced in any direction (i.e. that the improved mood that comes from physical activity affects cognitive improvements as well, or vise versa).

Either way, if the studies are correct, as in our experience of working with seniors every week in our two boutique fitness studios would indicate, it's never to late to start being active. And, staying active helps us all live well both mentally as well as physically.

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